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Vital Lessons of Researchers in Vision and Ophthalmology

Image statements vital lessons

If you only had a single statement to pass on to others summarizing the most vital lesson to be drawn from your work, what would it be?

“Predifferentiated bone marrow-derived stem cells are promising candidates for the replacement of degenerated retinal cells.”

Volker Enzmann, Research Director, Dept. of Ophthalmology, Inselspital, University of Bern, Switzerland

“Ambient light intensity is a crucial independent environmental modulator of refractive development of chicks’ eyes. Dim ambient light is a risk factor for development of myopia in these eyes".

Dr. Yuval Cohen, M.D., Goldschleger Eye Research Institute, Tel-Aviv University, Israel

“If half of the people say it’s good and half of the people say it’s crazy you should go ahead and do it.”

Prof. Eberhart Zrenner
(adopted from Seymour Benzer), Centre for Ophthalmology, Institute for Ophthalmic Research, Tuebingen, Germany

“Over the past years our research group has developed neuroprotective strategies and treatments for degenerative retinal diseases and corneal distrophies. We have demonstrated in experimental animals the convenience of using ebselen, lutein and DHA in diabetic retinopathy; the ability of different antioxidants to rescue photoreceptors in an animal model of retinitis pigmentosa, and the importance of oxidative stress in keratoconus. To obtain these results the identification of the signaling pathways involved in these degenerating processes has been fundamental.”

Prof. Francisco Javier Romero Gómez, Universidad Cardenal Herrera CEU, Valencia, Spain

“Our research indicates that the influence of oculomotor programming on perception needs to be considered when studying sensory or cognitive processes. This is true even during periods of maintained gaze fixation and even for cognitive processes that are otherwise presumed to be independent of eye movements.”

Prof. Ziad Hafed, Head of the "Physiology of Active Vision" lab at the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, Germany

“Looking inside the dying photoreceptors will enlighten us to develop cures for blindness.”

Prof. Valeria Marigo, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy

“Correct and precise formulation of the aim of the research, that could result in finding a solution on a pathology that if solved would make live better of your patients. After having done that be prepared to spend a whole carreer on  looking for the right answer since a stepwise approach will generate more questions than ever expected.”

Prof. Marie-José Tassignon Antwerp University Hospital, Department of Ophthalmology, Belgium

“Glaucoma is of major public health concern globally and we are developing solutions in the UK and Africa to talking this problem. It should be a Vision 2020 priority disease.”

Ian Murdoch, Institute of Ophthalmology, UCL, London, United Kingdom

“Eye length controlled by retinal processing of defocus.”

Prof. F. Schaeffel, Centre for Ophthalmology, Institute for Ophthalmic Research, Tuebingen, Germany

“Vision researchers should never forget that beyond careers, publications and funding there are patients out there who need and expect a better quality of life: so please, researchers, once in a while close your eyes and imagine what impact an eye-opening research has on people affected by blinding diseases- and keep working for the good cause.”

Dr. Rainald von Gizycki, ProRetina Germany

“Chance is the most important factor determining a career. To increase the chances don't give up too soon.”

Prof. Jan Kremers, Dept. of Ophthalmology, University Hospital Erlangen, Germany

“The lens of the eye can be photochemically manipulated by subtle infrared femtosecond laser pulse far below the threshold for collateral damage, a discovery that may lead to entirely new ways of approaching the problems associated with the aging of the lens.”

Dr. Line Kessel, Department of Ophthalmology, Glostrup Hospital, Denmark

“Retinal bipolar cells are the first neurons to convert the visual signal into the digital format of spikes.”

Dr. Leon Lagnado, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, United Kingdom

“Anti-VEGF agents can induce a blinding angio-fibrotic switch by causing a shift in the balance between pro-angiogenic VEGF and pro-fibrotic CTGF.”

Prof. Dr. Reinier O. Schlingemann, Medical Retina Unit and Ocular Angiogenesis Group Department Of Ophthalmology, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam The Netherlands

“The retina undergoes a process of very slow functional adaptation, over half a year or longer, to metabolic challenges such as a reduction in blood glucose concentration, a phenomenon that may help explain why the retina is so vulnerable to diabetes.”

Michael Larsen, MD, DMSc, Professor of Ophthalmology, Department of Ophthalmology, Glostrup Hospital and University of Copenhagen, Glostrup, Denmark

“Retinal glial (Müller) cells are important players in development, proper mature functioning, and pathophysiology / clinics of the retina.”

Prof. Dr. Andreas Reichenbach, Paul Flechsig Institute for Brain Research Dept. Pathophysiology of Neuroglia Leipzig University, Germany

“Involve patient organizations in all research projects and collaborations from the beginning of the research proposal development. Web streaming of recorded lectures may be an economically valuable means for educational activities in the future. Consider industrial partners when conducting clinical research activities both for financial support and research ideas.”

Nikki Hafezi, Research facilitator, Geneva, Switzerland

“With dedication it should be possible to overcome the inherent mutational heterogeneity frequently associated with dominantly inherited retinal degenerations and to design gene therapies for this group of retinopathies.”

Dr. Sophia Millington-Ward, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

“Diseases can be explained on the molecular level by analysing how disease causing alterations perturb the biological system on the level and quality of gene expression, protein interaction and changes in proteomic and metabolomic patterns and activities. As a recent example exemplifying this approach, LCA5, a severe childhood blinding disease, can be explained as a transport problem in photoreceptors caused by perturbed interflagelar transport (IFT) through the interconnecting cilium (Boldt et al., J. of Clinical Investigations, 2011). As a consequence of a very local defect, rhodopsin and other essential proteins of the photoreceptor outer segments remain in the inner segment. On the global systemic level, mice and men, suffering from the defect caused by a single mutation in the LCA5 gene, lebercilin, cannot see.”

Prof. Marius Ueffing, Director, Centre for Ophthalmology, Institute for Ophthalmic Research, Tuebingen, Germany

“Only give up believing in your own ideas when you have the scientific proof that they were wrong.”

Dr. Imre Lengyel, UCL, Institute of Opthalmology, London, United Kingdom

“The expectations of our patients are not exactly the same as ours. Don’t be worried about getting just a 20/20, but instead, to have an understanding about the visual comfort situation needed for everyone and to be sure each patient understand he or her own visual limitations in every moment of life.”

Dra. Amparo Navea, Directora Médico, Fundación Oftalmológica del Mediterráneo, Valencia, Spain

The physiology of the retina is a vital but recently neglected field in basic and disease related research. The interest is already returning.

Prof. Jan Kremers, Dept. of Ophthalmology, University Hospital Erlangen, Germany

It isn’t over until it is over!  - That phrase may best describe the legislative process.  Time after time, the U.S. Congress has proposed legislation that affects research funding or the structure of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and which is significantly different by the time it passes and is implemented. During the Fiscal Year 2011 appropriations cycle, the last Continuing Resolution (CR) that finalized funding (which was also the eighth CR in that cycle) cut NIH/National Eye Institute (NEI) by 1%, versus a House bill that would have cut it by 5%. Six years after Congress proposed to merge NIH Institutes and Centers, and five years after the final bill put such authority in the hands of an NIH Advisory Committee called the Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB), the proposed merger of the Alcohol and Drug Institutes (the only proposed so far) is delayed, pending an NIH analysis of the budgetary and programmatic implications of this move. That is why advocacy is so important – it has the potential to significantly change the course of legislation and its implementation.”

James F. Jorkasky, Executive Director, National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR)/Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR), Washington, USA

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